Linfield warn supporters over singing of ‘Billy Boys’

Andy Waterworth scores against Cliftonville in last October's Shield semi-final
Andy Waterworth scores against Cliftonville in last October's Shield semi-final

Linfield have warned their supporters that the club faces “severe punitive sanctions” if they sing the ‘Billy Boys’ song at future matches.

The Windsor Park club has told fans that all variations of the song have been deemed unacceptable by UEFA and the Irish FA.

Linfield – or any Irish League club found guilty of singing the song – could be forced to play games behind closed doors if fans breach the ruling.

The warning comes after Linfield and Cliftonville successfully appealed against fines imposed by the Irish FA over alleged sectarian chanting at last October’s County Antrim Shield semi-final at Windsor Park.

The fines were rescinded last week following a breach of procedures by the IFA’s Disciplinary Committee.

The Association’s Appeals Board also cleared Cliftonville of any allegations, but concluded there was “sufficient evidence”that Linfield supporters had involved themselves in breaches of the Disciplinary Code.

In a statement released on the club’s official website on Wednesday night, Linfield warned fans of their future conduct when it came to the singing of songs.

“All variations of the song popularly known as ‘the Billy Boys’ and sung to the tune of ‘Marching Through Georgia’ are now deemed unacceptable and, if aired at Linfield matches, will lead to severe punitive sanctions against the club,” the club said.

The club says all variations of the ‘Billy Boys’ tune are now banned.

“This will include other songs sung to the same tune, any use of the tune itself, and will also include those versions using words that may not be seen to be inherently sectarian in their nature. The IFA’s Appeals Board has relied upon the UEFA Appeals decision against Rangers from May 2006 in this regard,” the statement added.

“The Appeal Committee state that “any further incidents of chanting relating to any part of “the Billy Boys” song, be it word or melody, shall be construed as a breach of the IFA Disciplinary Code and shall be subject to relevant sanctions.”

The club also said any fan found guilty of breaching the IFA Code will be referred to the Police Service of Northern Ireland for prosecution.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the Club will also be compelled to take a similar approach to the use of any other song or chant that is undeniably sectarian or offensive in form,” it added.

Linfield also voiced its concern over the current IFA Disciplinary process, which the club said was “not fit for purpose”.

It added: “It is clear that taking much-needed financial resources out of local football by way of fines against clubs is not the way forward.”